Laura Ashley Tea Room, The Mercure Kenwood Hall Hotel and Spa, Sheffield
- Credit: Archant
One of just nine indulgent Laura Ashley tea rooms in the country recently launched on the outskirts of Sheffield. Our reviewer reports...
As someone who has worn Laura Ashley clothes since her teens and decorated successive homes with Laura Ashley paints, fabrics and furniture, it was an exciting prospect indeed to move into a new sensory arena of Laura Ashley experience - the Tea Room. It did not disappoint.
The recently launched Laura Ashley Tea Room is situated at The Mercure Kenwood Hall Hotel and Spa on the doorstep of the Peak District and set in 12 acres of mature grounds and pretty gardens.
One of just nine Laura Ashley Tearooms in the UK, the new tea room is located within the stunning drawing room and parlour of Victorian Kenwood Hall - the oldest part of the hotel, featuring its finest architecture.
The tea room sits 34 in the grand and spacious drawing room, with additional seating in the adjoining cosy parlour and there's an option to sit outside on the terrace in good weather, with its lovely garden vistas.
It all presents a thoroughly delicious visual feast before a petit morceau passes the guest's lips.
Anna Watts, Assistant Conference and Banquets Manager explained that a Laura Ashley design team had worked closely with hotel staff to re-imagine the two rooms, using Laura Ashley soft furnishings, lighting and décor. Indeed there are Laura Ashley catalogues on tables for those guests who wish to locate and procure similar items for themselves.
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The drawing room is decorated with a duck-egg blue soft-finished paint, which contrasts with a dramatic gold raw-silk fabric framing large ceiling-to-floor windows. There are striking teal velvet upholstered dining chairs at the neat tables dressed with white linen and Laura Ashley china.
A soft warm glow thrown from the delicate blush lamp shades of the chandeliers and the relaxed big band music playing gently in the background sets up an elegant and nostalgic yesteryear feel. It is a delightful and perfectly fitting backdrop for a wonderful experience of the great British tradition of afternoon tea.
I chose the Traditional Afternoon Tea at £20 per person, the most popular menu choice with guests. It arrived on an elegant three-tier cake stand and comprised a plate of finely-cut finger sandwiches garnished with watercress, a serving of two buttermilk scones with generous side dishes of clotted cream and a berry preserve, and a plate of assorted tantalising mini desserts.
The delicate sandwiches included classics such as Scottish smoked salmon with cream cheese, as well as a more adventurous goats cheese with beetroot. My favourite was the Henderson's Rarebit - a delicious tangy tiny mouthful on a lightly toasted brioche, and a nod to the city of Sheffield's famous condiment.
The scones, both plain and raisin, are baked fresh daily by the hotel's dedicated Laura Ashley chef. These were a triumph - perfectly light and fluffy and served with indulgent amounts of clotted cream and a choice of British preserve.
I was offered a top-up teapot of my Earl Grey from our waitress Leah, before sampling the colourful array of patisserie, all beautifully presented on a petal- strewn plate.
Leah talked us through the desserts: a tiny white chocolate and raspberry cake topped with a chocolate shard, a perfect raspberry macaroon, a light lemon sponge cake with lemon buttercream. My favourite was the shot glass of chocolate mousse finished with a white chocolate tuile.
My partner chose the Savoury Afternoon Tea at £23.50 per person, with a Laura Ashley traditional afternoon loose leaf tea from the tea menu. This included a similar selection of finger sandwiches plus a delicious plate of scones with his choice of blackcurrant preserve but also came with a plate of assorted savoury pastries served with a pickle chutney. The petite Scotch egg was a firm favourite with my partner and I could not resist sampling the tempting miniature slab of rich fruit cake topped with a piece of Wensleydale.
This all added up to a perfect, quintessentially British afternoon tea, just the ticket for a special occasion.